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Archive for the ‘Karl Marx’ Category

By Jhansher Khan

It is pretty obvious we see the media everywhere and advertisements that corporations reach out to us with (I mentioned this in previous articles). One thing that I found astounding is that not only are we indulged in a world of mass consumption, we are actually being controlled in terms of our behaviour and attitudes as well. According to what the media advertises generally, this in turn influences us to conform as a result. However, you may think that it was the state that had all of its dominant control on us, but it is in fact the “Marketplace” that shapes our lives as individuals.

I’ll just use one example that I am aware of in the case of mass consumption. Take the iPod for instance, do we really need one? Sure it can store a lot of memory and has a friendly user interface, but do we need to buy a new one every few years since the newer ones have more features and more space for songs? Well, you earn money, but why are you keeping all of this money? Why can’t you spend it on entertainment? The Marketplace has geared us into a mode of thinking and effectively uses this tactic in order to influence us to consume constantly.

This is mainly what you call a “dominance” in society, those who are the heads of corporations. The majority of us in society are passive viewers and are largely dependent on media outlets. As a result, this causes a type of social order in society, whereas everyone conforms and gives into new technology. Advertisements work as a bridge to essentially “hook” consumers, therefore its just a mere tool at the corporation’s disposal.

I know that Marx is one of the most quoted individuals in history, but this situations is very much like the class struggle between the Proletariat and the Bourgeoisie in society. During Marx’s time, the rich Bourgeoisie class consisted of private factory owners who owned the “means of production.” In the 21st century, corporations actually own the “means of production.” It is the capitalist system, but without the cheap manual labour that existed in the past. However, by consuming we basically give feedback back to these large corporations. So in a way, we are generally working in their best interest. Sure we have our own jobs and we do not work directly for the corporations themselves, but by consuming the products created by corporations, we are in fact aiding in expanding this “consumption empire.” Therefore, the control over us is being asserted even more since these corporations are expanding their enterprises to large degrees. If you draw the same type of model now and compare it to the days of Marx, they both do in fact strongly correlate with each other. One of the major differences is that the “means of production,” have changed according to technology. We are living in the exact same system with a few tweaked aspects!

Not only are corporations controlling our consumption habits, they also play a “cultural” role as well. Yes, they are going far beyond what they originally set out to be. I’ll use the iPod example once again. We are generally listening to and consuming even more music than ever before in the past. With all of this easy access and availability of music, music has become an even more important part of our lives. We did in fact have mp3 players before the iPod’s release, however, the iPod revolutionized mp3 players and stood out to consumers. This lead to heavy consumerism in the music industry as a result. Even in popular culture, the iPod is always depicted as an ideal mp3 player that stands far beyond others and due to popular cultural beliefs, consumers feel as if they need iPods.

It is questionable how much more of a grasp corporations will have on us in the future. The idea of control is always feared, but how much control do we really have to fear? Should we be worried?

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